Category Archives: activities

Backyard Fun: Make a Balance Beam

photo(5)If my backyard could talk, it would shout “Oh boy oh boy!”  You may ask “why?”  Basically because it is all set up for boys to have adventures.  With trees for climbing, bushes for hiding and lawn for running, the backyard is fully equipped.   But even I wanted to add some more features to this playful paradise.

So, some days the boys and I will build impromptu teepees, fairy villages and volcanoes.  But the other day, my husband had an idea.  He built something totally fabulous for the boys.  With three pieces of wood and a few nails, our backyard now boasts a balance beam!  This new feature is simply fabulous in every way.  It’s good for about ten minutes of active play, but heck, the boys have so much fun stepping on it, off of it and trying to balance.  Who knew three pieces of wood would prove to be so useful!

What are your favorite ways for sprucing up the backyard for kid play?  I’d love to hear!

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Mother Nature’s Toy Store

photo(4)

Everyday, my boys and I check out a house that’s being built at the end of our street.  With diggers, cement mixers and tons of interesting gadgets, the site provides an endless source of entertainment and learning.

So, I came up with this idea that the boys could have their own “construction zone” at our house.  We gathered rocks, small pieces of brick and sticks.  The boys picked out a construction zone where they wanted to build.  Then, since the ground was a bit hard, I dumped out a bag of potting soil.  They’ve since spent hours building with these materials.  Putting their diggers to use, they’ve moved things around bit by bit.

With their imaginations running wild, Bobby started singing the Bob the Builder song, CJ hummed along.  Their sweet song was music to my ears.  Pure mommy bliss.

With two active boys, I’ve learned that the best toys are practically free.  More than anything, they’d prefer to play with sticks and rocks than nearly anything else.  It’s amazing how much they enjoy mother nature’s toys!  So the next time your wee ones want to hit the toystore, think about hitting mother nature’s toystore.

Camping with Kids – 5 Things to Bring Along

campAs my last post emphasizes, I am now a fan of camping with my kids.  The boys love it, I love it, even our dog, loves it.  That’s not to say it’s not a butt-load of work, which it is.  But at the end of the day being out in nature without the distractions and conveniences of home provides a unique time to create memories.

Here’s my list of five things to remember to bring.

flashlights
glow sticksjiffy pop
harmonica
silly ghost stories

From the flashlights to the ghost stories, each of these things enhances our trips. For example, the glow sticks became the vehicle for Bobby to put on a light show.  How he loved seeing them dance in the dark.  The jiffy pop was more of a distraction, but a fun one.  And, of course the ghost stories told around the fire usually involving two superheros who scare the ghosts away.  That’s right – Bobby and CJ were the heroes –  hopefully will be cherished for years to come.

What’s in your backyard?

Fun with Sheets!

of Women and Wine

teepee

Today was one of those days when after a morning adventure down at the Sonoma County Regional Park, the boys just wanted to explore the backyard.  They found some pretty long sticks.  In an attempt to keep them from sword fighting, I asked the boys if they wanted to build something.  I already knew that the boys would want to do this as both of them love building anything.  Inspired by a friend who just built a teepee for a party they’re throwing, I thought about recreating a mini version for the boys.

The entire process was fun and a reminder of why life out here in the country is so fabulous.  After finding the long sticks, the boys helped hold up the sticks while I tied them together with green rope.  Wrap it up in an old sheet secured with clothespins, and voila – a cozy spot where…

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Pick a Pattern

patterns

Mornings around here are magical.  The boys do so well.  On those rare days when both boys get to relax at home in the morning, our day usually goes something like this.  Breakfast, active time to expend that boy energy, snack and then an inside project, puzzle or activity.   So this morning after our exploration down the local trail discovering creatures, caterpillars and chickens, and a nice snack, the boys were ready to dive into something more.

Having had a bin of lacing beads around for a year that have provided little interest, I decided to try something new and create sheets of pattern puzzles for Bobby to solve.  Basically, I took sheets of paper and drew out patterns based upon the beads that I already had.  If you want to try this, but don’t have time to make your own pattern sheets, rest assured that you can buy them online .

Bobby then was able to solve the pattern.  First, he was tasked with matching the bead to the pattern.  Then, I asked him to continue the pattern.  This second part was more difficult for longer patterns, but he was able to figure it out.  In fact, he ended up wanting to draw the color of the bead on the paper first before placing the bead in sequence.

In addition to providing a fun and challenging activity, the patterns teach concepts that are fundamental to learning math.   So, I encourage you to pick a pattern and let your kids have fun figuring it out.   You can use pretty much anything from beads, to hotwheels and legos.  Get creative!

Sink or Float

With the summer heat comes extra time to spend outside, of course incorporating water as much as possible.  But there is only so long that a baby pool, water table and sprinklers will capture the attention of my boys.  So, I’ve been coming up with some fun games to prolong the fun.  We’ve done all sorts of things from building ramps between the water table and pool to practicing to fish.

But one game has stood the test of time around here.  We call it sink or float.  Wanna play? Here’s how.  First, we went on a hunt for objects around the yard.  CJ pulled a little red wagon which not only kept him engaged but also proved to be most photohelpful. Then both boys picked up various objects like rocks, leaves, moss – oh and their favorite — sticks.

Once all items were collected, we went to go test out to discover which ones would sink or float.  Before putting an item in the water, Bobby would guess whether it would sink or float.  Then he or CJ would toss it in (or slide it down the ramp). To build a ramp, just get some handy dandy hotwheels track.

You should have heard the cheers when Bobby’s guess was right.  Not only does this simple game provide loads of fun, but it also is an easy way to start talking about buoyancy .

Now, my boys are trained so that when they see the baby pool they start searching for materials to test out in it.

Cheap & Easy Halloween Decorations

With Halloween in the air, it’s time to dress up with your home with ghosts and goblins.  Decorations are the perfect excuse to have some crafty fun!  There’s no need to break the bank.  So, here are a couple of ideas for decorations that are both easy and inexpensive.

Hanging Ghosts – Use your stash of plastic grocery bags to make ghosts.  Just buy some white trash can liners and a sharpe pen.  Draw eyes and a mouth on the plastic trash liner, then stuff with grocery bags.  Tie with a string or fishing line and hang in front of your house.  These ghosts will fly in the breeze and are weatherproof!

Lanterns – Make lanterns out of sandwich bags or old milk jugs.  Break out a sharpe pen and draw faces on them!  If using milk jugs cut a hole out of the bottom to put in the lights.  Use either a string of white lights or battery operated tea lights.

Window Silhouettes – All you need is black paper and a little imagination to decorate your windows.  Just cut festive shapes like cats, bats and witches, out of black construction paper and hang on the inside of your window.  If you’re low on construction paper, just paint anyother paper black and it will do the same thing.

Happy Halloween!